The World According to Joan Didion
By Evelyn McDonnell
(HarperOne, September 2023)
An intimate exploration of the life, craft, and legacy of one of the most revered and influential writers, an artist who continues to inspire fans and creatives to cultivate practices of deep attention, rigorous interrogation and beautiful style.
Joan Didion was a writer’s writer; not only a groundbreaking journalist, essayist, novelist and screenwriter, but a keen observer who honed her sights on life’s telling details. Her insights continue to influence creatives and admirers, encouraging them to become close observers of the world, unsentimental critics, and meticulous stylists.
An antidote to a global view that narrows our vision to the smallest screens, The World According To Joan Didion is a meditation on the people, places, and objects that propelled Didion’s prose and an invitation to journalists, storytellers, and life adventurers to “throw themselves into the convulsions of the world,” as she once said.
Evelyn McDonnell, the acclaimed journalist, essayist, critic, feminist, native Californian, and university professor who regularly teaches Didion’s work, is attuned to interpret Didion’s vision for readers today. Inspired by Didion’s own words—from her works both published and unpublished—and informed by the people who knew Didion and those whose lives she shaped, The World According to Joan Didion is an illustrated journey through her life, tracing the path she carved from Sacramento, Portuguese Bend, Los Angeles, and Malibu to Manhattan, Miami, and Hawaii. McDonnell reveals the world as it was seen through Didion’s eyes and explores her work in chapters keyed to the singular physical motifs of her writing: Snake. Typewriter. Hotel. Notebook. Girl. Etc.
One of the first books to be published after the revered writer’s death in 2021, The World According to Joan Didion is a literary companion for those embarking on new journeys and a guide to innovative ways of being. It will radically transform the way you explore the world, and will help you answer the question as you sit in a café, or on a plane or train, pondering the future: What would Joan Didion have seen?
“McDonnell offers a thoughtful assessment of Didion’s importance but doesn’t shy away from Didion’s flaws…. An appreciative portrait of an iconic author.”
Evelyn McDonnell has written or coedited eight books, including Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl and Queens of Noise: the Real Story of the Runaways. She has been a pop culture writer at the Miami Herald and a senior editor at the Village Voice. Her writing has appeared in anthologies and publications, including the New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Ms., and Billboard. She teaches journalism at Loyola Marymount University and lives in San Pedro, California.